According to Cancer Council Australia, two out of three Australians will suffer from skin cancer by the age of 70. This means the majority of our population will be diagnosed with skin cancer during their lifetime! This is a worrying statistic, however, it is one that can be lowered.
So what actions can we take now to help reduce our chances of skin cancer?
- The “slip, slop, slap” slogan is well known to many older Australians, however Cancer Council Australia has added another two actions to this list: slip, slop, slap, seek and slide; slip on protective clothing, slop on sunscreen, slap on a hat, seek shade and slide on sunglasses. These steps aim to limit sun exposure helping to decrease your risk of skin cancer. This is because skin cancer is caused by overexposure to harmful UV radiation from the sun, causing damage to skin cells. An SPF 50+ sunscreen will help to block these damaging rays and it’s worthwhile considering using a water resistant protector, as perspiration and beach or pool water will remove non-water resistant creams. Keep in mind your initial application should be 20 minutes before you head outdoors and it should be reapplied every two hours.
- As part of our New Year resolutions, many of us will attempt to kick a habit, such as coffee consumption. However, that morning cappuccino may actually be helping to reduce your risk of skin cancer! Findings published in the Journal of National Cancer Institute in 2015 suggest an inverse relationship between coffee consumption and the risk of developing melanoma. Yale University of Public Health doctoral student, Erikka Loftfield, found a 20% lower risk of developing malignant melanoma in those who consumed four or more cups of coffee per day, compared to those who did not consume any coffee at all.
- In order to reduce the deadliness of skin cancers, early detection is vital. This means regular (monthly) self-skin checks and mole checks. These checks need to be thorough and include every inch of skin, including areas you might not always think of, such as scalp, nails and feet. Any new moles or lesions that appear need to be checked by your skin cancer doctor.
- Remember that sun reflects off snow, sand, water and ice, strengthening UVR harmfulness by up to 80% (according to skincancer.org). Limit your exposure time accordingly for places such as the beach, where UVR rays will be reflected and intensified.
- At least once every 12 months, get your skin checked by a medical practitioner with a special interest in skin cancer. These doctors will be up-to-date on the latest skin cancer research, diagnosis and treatment.
These are five strategies for you to implement every day to help reduce your risk of skin cancer. For more information on skin cancer prevention or to book an appointment for a skin check, call the SunDoctors on 13-SKIN (13-7546), or head online to sundoctors.com.au